What Are The Medical Malpractice Laws In Tennessee?
Medical malpractice cases in Tennessee are called “Health Care Liability Actions” as defined by the Health Care Liability Act at Tenn. Conde Ann. § 29-26-101. These cases are highly technical and incredibly difficult for a plaintiff to win. From beginning to end, the plaintiff must navigate his or her way down a path littered with landmines. Before even filing suit, the plaintiff must provide each potential defendant with a notice letter. These letters must meet the technical requirements set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121 or else the plaintiff might lose the right to sue and recover damages from the health care provider. A brief review of appellate court decisions in Tennessee will provide many examples of court’s dismissing cases with catastrophic damages caused by a health care provider because the plaintiff’s attorney did not meet the statutory requirements with the notice letters. After sending notice letters, the Health Care Liability Act requires the injured party to wait at least 60 days before filing suit. Once the 60 day moratorium has expired, the plaintiff may bring his or her suit but must include a certificate of good faith affirming the plaintiff has consulted with an expert who has provided a written opinion that there is a good faith basis for the law suit. Expert witnesses in these cases are expenses and hard to find. By the time an attorney has filed a law suit, he or she will have already invested a few thousand dollars in the case.
As the case progresses, the expenses will dramatically increase. The plaintiff must prove his or her case by expert testimony at trial. In addition to hiring experts, the plaintiff’s attorney will take the depositions of the defendant’s experts in order to prepare for trial in addition to taking the depositions of nurses, physicians, and hospital administrators. In order to adequate prepare a HCLA case for trial, the attorney will have invested $100,000 to $500,000 in the case. If the case goes to trial, it will take between 1 and 6 weeks to complete and cost an additional $25,000 to $100,000 in expenses.
If the case develops favorably for the plaintiff and the attorney is a skilled trial attorney, there is a good chance the case will settle. However, if the case goes to trial, the defense will the case 75% of the time or more. This is because most cases that go to trial have not developed in favor of the plaintiff and because jurors tend to give the health care provider the benefit of the doubt unless the injuries are catastrophic or the care is particularly egregious.
Who Is A Medical Malpractice Claim Brought Against? Who Could Be Liable For My Injuries?
A medical malpractice claim could be against the physician or the nurse. It could also be the employer of the physician or the nurse.
Perhaps a hospital doesn’t have appropriate policies, or an individual nurse failed to follow the policies and procedures. Or, the liable entity could be any medical professional or specialist – even in some circumstances a pharmacist or a radiologist who didn’t provide the appropriate information in a report.
Your injuries could also be the result of a faulty product.
Say you have a hip replacement or knee replacement. If it fails, it could be because the physician was negligent in installing the hardware, or it could be that the product itself was faulty. Therefore, any number of people could be involved in a claim.
The only way to identify the liable party is to investigate the medical record thoroughly. To do that, you need an attorney who is prepared to handle your medical malpractice claim.
What Evidence Do I Need To Prevail In My Medical Malpractice Claim?
The medical records themselves are probably the most crucial evidence in a medical malpractice case. Due to the HITECH Act – hospitals and physicians’ offices are now required to create electronic medical records.
Creating an electronic medical record leaves behind digital footprints, which you are entitled to discover if you have a medical malpractice case.
In other words, in the current environment for healthcare providers, it is challenging to make false records or to falsify, edit or delete records after the fact. So, the medical records are probably the best evidence of what happened.
Overall, hospitals and doctors’ offices do their best to preserve those records, and even if they don’t, they will undoubtedly leave a trail behind that at least tells you what they did and didn’t do.
When the medical records tell a story that is unfavorable to the hospital, nurse, or physician, the defendants will try to create a different narrative at trial. By taking the depositions of these witnesses, the plaintiff’s attorney can learn what the defendant’s “pitch” is early on and develop a plan to defeat it.
Can I Still File A Medical Malpractice Claim If I Signed A Consent Form Before The Procedure?
No legally binding consent form requires a patient to consent to negligent treatment or care.
When you agree to treatment, you acknowledge that you know the risks and benefits, including any potential adverse outcomes. But you’re still not waiving your right to a lawsuit. So even if you have signed a consent form before a neglectful treatment, you may still file a medical malpractice claim.
That said, if there is a common risk factor associated with a particular treatment or procedure, you should be notified of it.
For example, if someone has their gallbladder removed, a common bile duct injury is the number one potential complication. No one in the United States is having gallbladder surgery without first being told that there might be a common bile duct injury during their surgery.
However, this does not allow a healthcare provider to be negligent. Instead, they must still take the proper precautions or initiatives to prevent the known injury.
If the doctor does all those things and you have the injury, you don’t have a case because you consented and knew the associated risks. However, if the doctor doesn’t take the necessary precautions, you have a claim, regardless of the consent form.
How Much Does A Medical Malpractice Claim Cost?
Prosecuting a medical malpractice case through trial can cost $100,000 to up to half a million or more. Our medical malpractice claim law firm will cover all the expenses. If we lose the case, we do not recover our expenses. We only recover our expenses from the plaintiff if we settle the case or get a judgement against the defendant.
For more information on Medical Malpractice Claims In Tennessee State, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (931) 322-5055 today.
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